Evolution's harder than creation: M&B's Hughes

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Related tags: Brand, Management, Brand management, Tony hughes

by Katherine Rose The evolution of a brand is more difficult to achieve than creating a brand, according to Tony Hughes, the managing director of...

by Katherine Rose The evolution of a brand is more difficult to achieve than creating a brand, according to Tony Hughes, the managing director of Mitchells & Butlers Restaurants. Hughes ­ talking at the Restau-rant 2003 conference ­ identified four main ways in which M&B created and maintained its brands. Firstly, Hughes, who oversees brands such as All Bar One and Browns, warned that operators must be careful to identify and nurture "brand DNA" if they wanted their brand to succeed. Secondly, caretaking the brand was seen as equally important. Hughes said: "The brand must transcend the managing company," aided along its way by a specific brand management team. Retaining managers at ground level was also seen as crucial to the brand's health and longevity. The third key factor of brand management identified by Hughes was basic competence at running a business. Hughes pointed to M&B's mass-market appeal and said: "The plaudits and rosettes may be in the niche market, but the money is made in the mass market." Hughes attributed this success to M&B's fourth strategy, its policy that it will "under promise and over deliver", and stressed the importance of avoiding change if it was driven by internal forces rather than externally, by the customer. "Menu fatigue is an operations disease that the customer never has a chance to catch," he said. At the heart of mass market appeal is value for money, although Hughes warned that "guests, while getting more affluent, are looking for clever value". Hughes pointed to M&B's policy of having integrated pubs, with the bar at the heart of the offering, as the main factor in maintaining an informal air, which, he said, added to mass market appeal. Speedy but informal service, where the customer had a chance to feel that they were in control of their time by, for example, being able to help themselves from a salad bar, only added to that appeal. Hughes closed his presentation with advice for new owners. "New owners are like dogs. They are highly territorial and don't feel they own the brand until they've pissed all over it." l See next week's MA for a full conference report

Related topics: Mitchells & Butlers

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